WHO Says Widely-Used Dow Herbicide 2,4-D “Possibly Carcinogenic” to Humans

Advocacy groups warn new classification is latest proof that ‘we cannot continue down the path of dousing our fields with ever more toxic chemicals’

By Sarah Lazare
June 24, 2015
Common Dreams

 

"We have known for decades that 2,4-D is harmful to the environment and human health, especially for the farmers and farm workers applying these chemicals to crops," said Mary Ellen Kustin, Environmental Working Group. (Photo: Chafer Machinery/flickr/cc)

“We have known for decades that 2,4-D is harmful to the environment and human health, especially for the farmers and farm workers applying these chemicals to crops,” said Mary Ellen Kustin, Environmental Working Group. (Photo: Chafer Machinery/flickr/cc)

The World Health Organization revealed on Tuesday that 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic, a key ingredient of a widely-used herbicide produced by Dow, is “possibly carcinogenic” to humans—a classification that public health and environmental advocates say is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the overall dangers the chemical poses.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer—a Lyon, France-based wing of the WHO—published the findings Tuesday in The Lancet Oncology and also disclosed them in a public statement (pdf).

The agency said there is “strong evidence that 2,4-D induces oxidative stress that can operate in humans and moderate evidence that 2,4-D causes immunosuppression, based on in-vivo and in-vitro studies.”

The classification of “possibly carcinogenic” puts 2,4-D two levels above “probably not carcinogenic” but one below “probably carcinogenic.”This development did not come as a shock to public health and environmental advocates.

“We have known for decades that 2,4-D is harmful to the environment and human health, especially for the farmers and farm workers applying these chemicals to crops,” said Mary Ellen Kustin, senior policy analyst for the Environmental Working Group, in a press statement.

However, advocacy groups say that the agency’s findings come at a particularly critical time.

“Now that farmers are planting 2,4-D-tolerant GMO crops, this herbicide is slated to explode in use much the way glyphosate did with the first generation of GMO crops,” said Kustin. “And we know from experience—and basic biology—that weeds will soon grow resistant to these herbicides, making GMO crop growers only more dependent on the next chemical fix.”

Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, senior scientist at Pesticide Action Network, said that this dependency underscores the importance of immediate action: “We must heed the warning: we cannot continue down the path of dousing our fields with ever more toxic chemicals as a temporary solution to today’s epidemic of herbicide-resistant weeds—a problem greatly exacerbated in recent years by dependence on glyphosate, now classified as a probable carcinogen.”

Troublingly, 2,4-D is just one key ingredient in Dow’s Enlist Duo herbicide that was approved in April for use in 15 states by the Environmental Protection Agency. The other key ingredient is glyphosate, which the WHO said in March is a “probable carcinogen” for humans.

What’s unknown, and perhaps even more alarming, is the fact that “when the EPA approved Enlist Duo for use on GMO crops, the agency did not consider the effects the two harmful defoliants may have on human health when mixed together,” EWG warned Tuesday.

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4 thoughts on “WHO Says Widely-Used Dow Herbicide 2,4-D “Possibly Carcinogenic” to Humans

  1. ShelbyCourtland

    Reblogged this on shelbycourtland and commented:
    If you are wondering why there is an outrageous number of people you know with cancer, you can start here with the blame.

    I, for one, hear daily of new diagnoses of cancer and it is an epidemic! It is also extremely obvious that those who run the corporations that are responsible for introducing these toxins into us are not at all concerned that millions of people are writhing in ferocious agony and many millions more will follow suit. It is also crystal clear that there is no such thing as an Environmental Protection Agency because if indeed it exists, why is this allowed?

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

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